Biden-Harris Administration Announces $500,000 from EPA’s Brownfields Grants to Train Michigan Environmental Workers
EPA selects Green Door Initiative in Detroit, Michigan, to receive one of the first Brownfields Job Training grants funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, boosting workforce training in underserved, overburdened communities
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $500,000 grant funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for environmental job training programs in Michigan. EPA’s Brownfields Jobs Training Program will grant recruit, train, and place workers for community revitalization and cleanup projects at brownfield sites. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, total funding for the program has more than tripled for fiscal year 2023, ensuring stronger environmental benefits and more economic opportunities in overburdened and underserved areas.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is supercharging EPA’s Brownfields Program, which is transforming blighted sites, protecting public health, and creating economic opportunities in more overburdened communities than ever before,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “The investments announced today will not only support the cleanup of some of our nation’s most polluted areas, but they will also equip a new generation of workers to take on the significant environmental challenges that plague overburdened neighborhoods, and jumpstart sustainable, long-term careers in the communities that need these jobs the most.”
“This grant will provide trainees with vital job skills to help them enter a growing industry,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “EPA is doing more than investing in communities, we are investing in people, in families and in futures.”
“The EPA Grant will allow us to double our annual reach to ~100 participants while also expanding our capacity to meet the needs of our employer partners,” said Donele Wilkins, founder and executive director of the Green Door Initiative. “Detroit will benefit economically by increasing the local tax base, socially by reducing unemployment and recidivism of justice involved citizens, and overall by enhancing the quality of life for its citizens. Additionally, this grant would allow GDI to expand our existing training to include solar and other renewable energy trainings, which will help to meet the increased demand for labor in this emerging sector while simultaneously supporting the Biden Administration’s plan for sustainable infrastructure and equitable clean energy (particularly in overburdened, underserved communities).”
Green Door Initiative plans to train 345 students, graduate 300 and place at least 270 in environmental jobs. They will work primarily with students from the City of Detroit, particularly individuals who are underemployed and unemployed, lack post-secondary education, or have justice system involvement. Students who complete the training will earn up to three state and four federal certifications.
“This is a win-win for Michigan workers and our environment. The Green Door Initiative already does an excellent job training the next generation of workers to revitalize our communities, and this investment will allow them to continue this critical work. The funding will not only fund job training programs for people in Southeast Michigan, but will provide the workforce needed to clean up our neighborhoods and keep them safe for years to come,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
“One of my top priorities is working to ensure that Michiganders have access to clean air and drinking water,” said Sen. Gary Peters. “I’m pleased that the bipartisan infrastructure law will invest in recruiting and training local students for future jobs focused on revitalization and other important community projects.”
“This funding will help strengthen our workforce and create jobs while cleaning up our environment and making our neighborhoods better places to live,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell. “The Green Door Initiative is doing important work bringing environmental justice and education to our communities, and this grant will go a long way in furthering those efforts.”
“Brownfields pose a health hazard to our communities and deter economic investment in the neighborhood,” said Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence. “Funding programs like the Green Door Initiative, which will train 345 students on cleanup projects at brownfield sites, is a step in the right direction to ensure Michigan remains environmentally resilient and sustainable for generations to come. Investing in our growing environmental workforce will create greater economic opportunities for our city and encourage our workforce to pursue the important skills needed to help clean up our community.”
“I’m thrilled that the EPA has selected the Green Door Initiative to receive a Brownfields Job Training grant, which will allow them to train hundreds of Detroit-area youth to help clean up hazards and revitalize our communities,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib. “As we begin to correct decades of underinvestment, frontline residents who live with the burdens of pollution and neglect should be empowered to lead the way, and this is a great step in that direction.”
President Biden’s leadership and bipartisan Congressional action have delivered the single-largest investment in U.S. brownfields infrastructure ever through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invests more than $1.5 billion over five years through EPA’s highly successful Brownfields Program. This historic investment enables EPA to fund more communities, states, and Tribes, and provides the opportunity for grantees to build and enhance the environmental curriculum in job training programs that support job creation and community revitalization.
The Brownfields Jobs Training Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Based on data from the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, approximately 97 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.
Individuals completing a job training program funded by the EPA often overcome a variety of barriers to employment. Many trainees are from historically underserved neighborhoods or reside in areas that are overburdened by pollution.
Graduates of Brownfields Job Training programs learn valuable, sought-after skills and have the opportunity to earn a variety of certifications, ensuring employment opportunities result not just in temporary contractual work, but in long-term environmental careers. This includes certifications in:
- Lead and asbestos abatement,
- Hazardous waste operations and emergency response,
- Mold remediation,
- Environmental sampling and analysis, and
- Other environmental health and safety training
Brownfields Job Training (JT) grants allow nonprofits, local governments, and other organizations to recruit, train, and place unemployed and under-employed residents of areas affected by the presence of brownfield sites. Through the JT Program, graduates develop the skills needed to secure full-time, sustainable employment in various aspects of hazardous and solid waste management and within the larger environmental field, including sustainable cleanup and reuse, and chemical safety. These green jobs reduce environmental contamination and build more sustainable futures for communities.
Since 1998, the EPA has awarded 371 Brownfields Job Training grants. With these grants, more than 20,341 individuals have completed trainings and over 15,168 individuals have been placed in careers related to land remediation and environmental health and safety.
For more information on the selected Brownfields Job Training grant recipients, including past grant recipients, please visit the Brownfields Grant Fact Sheet Search
For more information on this, and other types of Brownfields Program grants, please visit the Brownfields Job Training Grants webpage.